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City approves permit for county homeless shelter


At its meeting Monday, the Fayetteville City Council approved a special use permit for Cumberland County’s proposed homeless shelter, paving the way for the county to begin the planning and eventual construction of the shelter. 

The shelter will be constructed in four adjoining properties off of Grove Street between B Street and Hawley Lane, adjacent to the former Pauline Jones Elementary School. County officials said the project will cost about $15 million to complete. 

Referred to as a “homeless support center” by the county, the shelter will provide temporary overnight shelter for people experiencing homelessness, as well as access to support programs and educational resources. The shelter will house single men, women and families in different areas of the shelter, county officials said at the meeting. 

County representatives at the meeting also said the county intentionally purchased the property next to the former school — currently being used by Fayetteville Technical Community College for training programs — to offer people staying at the shelter the opportunity to take FTCC training courses at the school. 

The shelter, once completed, will provide beds for the unsheltered at a time when members of the homeless community have said overnight shelter space is sparse and often not available during freezing or “White Flag” nights. 

Glenn Adams, the chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, said the county would like to collaborate with the city on the project, such as by having Fayetteville provide transportation from the homeless support center to the city’s Day Resource Center. Adams hailed the project as a positive step toward improving the lives of local residents. 

“This is to better this entire community,” Adams told Fayetteville council members Monday. “Not just B Street, but the city of Fayetteville and the county of Cumberland.” 

Council members were also generally supportive of the project. Council Member Deno Hondros emphasized the need for the city and county to work together on the project and other initiatives to address gaps in support services for local people experiencing homelessness. 

“Similar to our Day Resource Center, which is not a silver bullet or a magic wand that's going to end homelessness, this project is not going to do that either,” Hondros said. “We have to work together — and if this can help fill one or more of those gaps in service, it's a worthy thing. 

The council also voted Monday to authorize a conditional rezoning for the shelter properties, a necessary step prior to the granting of a special use permit. 

County officials present at the meeting said the shelter will likely take two years to complete. 

Here’s what else the council did: 

  • Voted unanimously for legislation on the city’s procedure for removal of board members accused of misconduct, such as mistreatment of city staff or violation of committee bylaws. If a city board or committee member receives a complaint about them, which must be delivered to the city clerk, the council’s Appointment Committee will hold a special meeting to discuss the complaint. If the committee recommends removal of the member, the council would be tasked with making a final decision on whether to remove the member. Members who have received a complaint will also be notified by city staff prior to the council taking up the issue. 
  • Voted unanimously to adopt a policy amendment that dictates public comment periods shall not exceed 30 minutes; previously, the ordinance limited comment periods to 15 minutes with the option to add an additional 15 minutes at the mayor’s discretion. 
  • Voted 6-4 to adopt an official amendment to the city’s ordinance on council meeting times. Starting in February, regular council meetings will begin at 6:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. and work sessions will begin at 2 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. Council Members Mario Benavente, Brenda McNair, Courtney Banks-McLaughlin and Lynne Greene voted against the motion, citing concerns that the 2 p.m. meeting time would conflict with council members’ and residents’ regular working schedules.

Contact Evey Weisblat at eweisblat@cityviewnc.com or 216-527-3608

homeless shelter, homelessness, county, city, homeless